Skyhawks, Beavers prepped for Friday

When all eyes are on Jordyn Searle, that's when the Southridge star girls' athlete is at her best.

Before she bombards down the long jump runway, Searle feeds off the crowd's energy no matter if it's a smaller dual meet such as the Skyhawks' encounter with Beaverton last Wednesday or the 6A State Championships at Hayward Field. The verve and vigor at state is unlike any other venue, but even if there's just a few sparse parents lounging in the stands, Searle gets jacked up.

“I picture people watching me, and it gets me going," said Searle. "It just builds my adrenaline because I don't want to mess up and jump bad because people are watching."

What's more is before Searle takes off down the long jump runway, she pictures herself using the perfect technique and replays it in her head prior to attacking the pit.

That mental approach and the bigger than normal crowd helped the senior pop off a 17-07 for her eighth first-place finish of the season. Searle shattered the school record (18-1.5) during a dual meet against Aloha and sits second in all of 6A. A strict preseason training regiment put Searle in the best shape of her young life, and she's set personal bests in the long jump, 100 and 200 as a result of the workouts.

“It was the first time I've ever done that so I think it helped a lot getting in-shape before the season started,” said Searle who has the best long jump mark in Metro.

On May 8, Searle also won the 100 (12.55) and was part of the Skyhawks' winning 4 x 100 relay with Natalie Leckey, Madison Smukalla and Jaena Goddard. The Southridge girls' team beat Beaverton 86-59. Rachel Niessen won the 800 (2:29) and 1,500 (5:02) and Natalie Leckey swept the 100 hurdles (16.71) and 300 hurdles (47.84). Heather Cusworth (32-06) won the shot put and Smukalla took first in the high jump by clearing 4-08.

Victoria Cronin-Penney set a personal record in the triple jump (33-07) against the Beavers. She's shooting to take second in Metro and clinch a berth at state. It's a tough chore, the senior said, because Metro girls are literally improving by multiple feet every week. Her personal best on May 8 moved her up to eighth in the district, three feet away from Westview's Hannah Wilhoite, who has the second-best Metro mark.

“Anything can happen at districts, you never know. We're just going to eat healthy this week and be prepared — just like any meet,” said Cronin-Penney. "It's easier to compete against people you're shooting for instead of being way ahead and not having some push you.

“The girls have been doing really well. We have good, strong individuals that could make it.”

For the Skyhawk boys, Royal Black appears to have fully recovered from an early season hamstring injury after barely missing 22 feet, 6 inches in the long jump. Black scratched by a quarter of an inch and had to settle for a 21-02 that put him behind teammate Jordan Morgan, who jumped 22-01. Black walked away confident as ever, knowing he could potentially reach the 23-foot level — the ultimate goal for any high school jumper.

“I took off, and it felt spot-on," Black said. "Everything was right. I scratched by a quarter of an inch, but that's alright.

“Right now I have the form, it's just confidence now. I just need to go out and do it. Go out, have the confidence to know I can jump 23 feet. Hopefully by state, I'll have a big jump.”

Black also won the 100 hurdles (16.12) and was joined in the winners' circle by Morgan in the javelin (157-02), Devin Martinez in the high jump (5-08) and Adam Garske in the pole vault (15-00). Garke's personal best in the pole vault is currently best in the state. Meanwhile, 800 runner Alexander Castillo (2:01), 1,500 competitor Zach Cooper and 300 hurdles' Nikko Thomas (42.64) also won in their respective events.

In Carson Brom, Matthew Kim, Ezra Duilio and Ross Hoffman, the Beaverton boys' team has four of the swiftest sprinters not only in Metro but all of 6A as well. The quartet just so happens to make up the 4 x 100 relay as well, giving the Beavers' the fastest relay squad in the league.

Hoffman said the 4 × 100 started off slow at the beginning on May 8 but finished fast enough for their second best time of the season, less than half a second away from a personal record. Each leg of the relay runs the 100 dash in 11.5 seconds or less, so Beaverton's speed is constant all the way around their oval. From Brom to Kim, to Duilio and finally Hoffman at the anchor, there are zero weak links, no crossing of the fingers hoping one of the four runners can run faster than they're capable of. But, there's more to a relay than just pure speed. Jesuit and Lincoln both carry rapid squads with Xavier Coleman — the fastest 100 runner in Metro — anchoring the Crusaders' relay. Beaverton feels they separate from the pack at the slowest points of the race — the baton exchange.

“Our handoffs are always on point every time,” Hoffman said. "We dropped a baton last season but not this season. We have real good transitions and consistent top speed. That's where it is.

"Our team's been together for the past three years, so we've had the same 4 x 100 handoffs every single track season. That's makes it good.”

Hoffman said the Beavers are real consistent right now with the fifth best time in the state with the goal of going top three and running a low 42-second race. First things first, though, and the junior wants a district championship for his unit.

“Everyone wants to beat us, but that's just more motivation," he said. "We just need to get psyched up. We can't come in there relaxed. We had our best time at Twilight because we were last in our heat and knew we had to make it up. We're psyched and had good competition going against us.

“Over the next two weeks, we're really going to work on getting our handoffs down perfectly.”

The Beaver boys beat the Skyhawks 83-59. Hoffman ran a season-best 11.34 100 for first place. Kim won the 200 in 22.88 and Duilio won the 400 (50.01). Other winners were 3,000 runner Drew Larabee, shot putter Michael Vahrenwald, discus thrower Jeremy Sears and triple jumper Max Bettendorf, who won their respective events.

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